The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) observed the anniversary of the AMBER Alert program on Friday January 13,”by asking that all individuals assist in the work of recovering abducted children by being aware and responsive to AMBER Alert postings”. The actuality is that everyone can be responsive and help look for children when the Amber Alert System activates. Many people are unaware that the Amber Alert Program came after the brutal murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman on January 13, 1996.
Amber Hagerman and her younger brother were riding their bikes in their grandparents’ neighborhood in Arlington, Texas when a man grabbed her off her bike. A man witnessed the kidnapping and called police but at the time, there was no system designed to get the information describing the vehicle and kidnapper out to the public. Statistically, the odds of recovering a kidnapped child drop as each minute passes with “the best hope of recovering a child safely being in the first three hours”, according the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
AMBER an acronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response is a national alert system activated by law enforcement officials working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) when certain criteria occur in a child’s disappearance. Important information regarding the kidnapper, kidnapper’s vehicle and a description of the endangered child reaches all aspects of the media alerting the public to be on the lookout.
An Amber alert allows citizens who are in the area surrounding the location of the incident to help look for the endangered child. After all, the more eyes looking for an abducted child and the abductor increase the likely hood of safely recovering the child. Authorities ask that if you see the vehicle, the kidnapper or the child to call 911 immediately and provide detailed information, but caution anyone in approaching the kidnapper or child.
According to the Department of Justice website, “all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have AMBER Alert plans.” The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) website credits the Amber Alert program with the successfully recovering 554 children as of January 12, 2012. This makes the Amber Alert Program a successful and important program that continues to evolve along with new media outlets, which are helping get the information out to the public at an amazing pace.
So, how can you help? Begin by signing up to receive wireless Amber Alerts on your mobile device and help look for an endangered child when the Amber Alert system activates in your area. Then visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and look at the pictures of children currently missing in America. You never know when a missing child will need your help to get home safely to his or her family.